Sandown - Local residents met last evening at Norbert's Fish and Chips to discuss plans to construct a ditch west of town towards Newchurch. Town clerk Noel Worthington presented plans completed by the civil engineer which he said are ready for tender.
Request for approval to construct the ditch as planned was thrown awry when Mr. Worthington announced that the ditch was "not a functional ditch" as the land in question is self-draining but is "intended to be a tourist attraction".
Resident Marjorie Stevens of 10 Hopewell stood up and pointed her finger declaring "Constructing a ditch is a poor effort at making a tourist attraction for Sandown."
"This is the kind of lack of vision that is driving away our youth to bigger communities like Ryde and Bembridge."
Mr. Worthington asked to finish his presentation and explained that the ditch as planned was not an attraction by itself but included an interpretive centre that would give tourists a history of ditches on the island and have a small theatre showing a continuous looping video of how the ditch was constructed.
Mr. Worthington also explained that "a tourist ditch is not a new idea", Whippingham constructed one, admittedly smaller in 1984 with some success.
Mayor Aldine Shute who was in attendance said that the problem with the "W ditch" in Whippingham was that it is only visible from the air and many thought it was an "M ditch" creating ongoing confusion for tourists looking for the "W ditch."
Mayor Shute gave his blessing to the project saying "the ditch idea is a good one but it needs to have more of a WOW! factor." He suggested that for it to be a right proper tourist ditch it should be designed to be in the likeness of a celebrity like Robert Hook, inventor of the balance spring for watches or Sir Christopher Cockrell, inventor of the hovercraft.
All present agreed the celebrity likeness image was a good improvement to the ditch design, Marjorie Stevens strongly suggested that "for the project to be successful it should be advertised as constructed by aliens" as well.
The meeting concluded with the town clerk thanking community members for their attendance and input and remarking that he would go back to the civil consultant with recommendations put forward that evening.